Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - October 29, 2010

The Gators move on to CCS

Sacred Heart Prep, Castilleja girls both compete Tuesday at the section golf finals

by Keith Peters

The top two teams from the West Bay Athletic League will continue their golfing battles when Sacred Heart Prep and Castilleja compete in the Central Coast Section Championships next Tuesday at Rancho Canada East Golf Course in Carmel Valley.

Sacred Heart Prep earned its invitation by tying with Castilleja for the WBAL regular-season title and then winning the tiebreaker. Castilleja earned its trip by qualifying at the WBAL Championships on Wednesday at Poplar Creek in San Mateo.

Needing to shoot 435 or lower to move on, Castilleja shot 424. Senior Brenna Nelsen struggled, but still shot a 6-over-par 77 and finished in a three-way tie for first place along with Jayshree Sarathy of Gunn and Miranda Wiss of Mercy-Burlingame.

Along with qualifying with a team, golfers could advance to the CCS tourney as individuals out of Wednesday's finals by shooting 87 or lower. Along with Nelsen and Sarathy, individual CCS qualifiers included senior Sarah Debs of Castilleja (79), Kimberly Beers of Pinewood (81), Shelby Soltau of Sacred Heart Prep (83), Gabby Girard of Menlo School (84), Rachael Henry of SHP (85) and sophomore Taylor Wilkerson of Castilleja (87).

Menlo shot 478 as a team and failed to advance to CCS.

For Castilleja, which finished 9-1 during the regular season with its only loss costing the Gators an automatic berth into CCS, Wednesday's performance was a solid tuneup for the section event.

"Brenna (Nelsen) struggled today, but I am confident she will rebound as she is a very dedicated and extremely gifted athlete," said Castilleja coach Jim Miller. "The rest of the team really hung in the whole day as we talked about the mental side of golf and we worked hard on our short games. We also discussed course management and we played an 18-hole practice round last Friday. Our team was very focused on making sure our outstanding season did not end today as a team."

Had Sacred Heart Prep needed to qualify as a team on Wednesday, the Gators would have failed to do so as they shot 444. That, perhaps, gives Castilleja an edge going into CCS.

"After our (last) match at Sharon Heights (a loss to SHP), our team was determined to qualify to go to CCS," Miller said, "and we wanted to make sure there was no doubt how strong our team is this season."

Along with Nelsen, Debs and Wilkerson, Castilleja got an 89 from freshman Caroline Debs and a 92 from senior Stephanie Merenbach. Wilkerson shot 39 on the back nine while Caroline Debs had a 42. Ellie Zales also moved on with the team despite not having her score count in the final total.

Joining Soltau and Henry in the CCS tourney next week for SHP will be Kennedy Shields (91), Michaela Hutter (88) and Emma Dake (97). The team's nonscorer on Wednesday was Christine Flynn, but she'll compete in the CCS team competition, as well.

On Tuesday, Menlo-Atherton sophomore Xin Fang shot a 9-over-par 80 to win individual honors at the PAL Championships at Poplar Creek. Fang won by a whopping 20 strokes over teammate Tiffany Yang.

Fang finished third last season with a 96 after incurring a two-stroke penalty. She was the only individual from Tuesday to qualify for the CCS Championships. Fang shot 41-39 on her title-winning round, helping the Bears finish third in the team race.

Girls' volleyball

The West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) girls' volleyball race is finally taking shape, and it's about time with only three matches remaining in the regular season.

In what has to be somewhat of a surprise, defending champion Mercy-Burlingame is not running away with the division like it did during last season's 10-0 campaign. In fact, Mercy suffered its first league loss since 2008 on Tuesday night and lost its grip on the division lead — if only temporarily.

Thanks to Castilleja's 25-23, 20-25, 17-25, 25-17, 15-13 come-from-behind upset victory, Sacred Heart Prep (6-1, 16-9) moved percentage points ahead of Mercy (5-1, 18-7) and into first place.

The Gators took care of business with a 25-18, 25-16, 25-18 victory over host Harker on Tuesday night.

With three matches remaining (four for Mercy-Burlingame), Sacred Heart Prep sits atop the division at 6-1 with Mercy next at 5-1. Castilleja is third at 4-3 while Menlo is 3-3, Notre Dame-San Jose 2-5 and Harker 0-7.

Mercy-Burlingame has a rescheduled match at Menlo on Friday night (6:15 p.m.) and will close the regular season (appropriately enough) at Sacred Heart Prep on Nov. 4.

Castilleja (25-5 overall) still could have a say in the division outcome because it visited Sacred Heart Prep on Thursday.

The Gators were at their best against visiting Mercy as senior Laura Rose had 20 kills, 10 digs and three blocks with junior Hannah Boland adding 14 kills and six blocks. Junior libero Lindsey Wang contributed 33 digs and four aces while sophomore setter Hannah Hsieh added 46 assists.

Sacred Heart Prep had a much-easier time against winless Harker as junior Sarah Daschbach had 11 kills, 17 digs and four aces while junior Jesse Ebner added 11 kills with four blocks and senior Hanna Elmore produced 19 assists.

Menlo lost a chance to move back into contention with a flat performance against Notre Dame-San Jose. Senior Jazmin Moledina was limited to eight kills and .263 hitting while standout freshman Maddie Huber had six kills, nine digs and three aces. None of the Knights reached double figures in any category.

In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton (9-2, 16-7) took care of visiting Aragon, 25-21, 28-26, 25-19 to all but lock up second place behind frontrunner Burlingame (11-0). The Bears are still mathematically alive for a possible co-title with three matches remaining. The Panthers, however, can clinch no worse than a co-title with their next win.

Freshman Pauli King led the Bears with 12 kills and 13 digs while sophomore Ali Spindt added 11 digs, 17 assists, four kills and three blocks. Senior Diane Seely had nine kills and three blocks. Senior Regina Mullen and sophomore Katelyn Doherty had the final two points in the 28-26 win in Game 2.

In the WBAL Skyline Division, Pinewood dropped a 25-23, 25-14, 27-25 decision to host Crystal Springs. The Panthers, who scored only 43 points in their first loss to Crystal, tallied 62 this time with a strong improvement. Lizzy Fields had seven kills and three blocks for Pinewood while libero Kandace Korver had 15 digs and setter Adrienne Whitlock produced 17 assists and nine digs. Jenn Bodine finished with nine digs, six kills and three blocks for Pinewood.

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